“I grieve for the bend in the road and beyond”

There are places you pass through on travels and you dream of them ever after. Two years ago John and I were ambling through Boundary country in the southern Interior of B.C. and saw, on our map, a road meandering off the main highway and rejoining it further east. The Rock Creek-Bridesville Road — though we took it backwards, so to speak, leaving Highway 3 (the Crowsnest Highway) at Bridesville and driving the most magical route through pine forests, along soft gravel, through grassy meadows, past several peaceful farms where deer grazed among cattle and bluebirds sat on fenceposts watching us as we tried to take their portraits. There were wildflowers in glorious bloom, a young bobcat crossing the road in front of us, yellowheaded blackbirds calling across a marsh, and a sense that here was paradise.

Last week terrible wildfires swept through this area. I’m not sure if this particular road was affected — I’ve looked online, trying to find precise maps —  but many homes were burned in the Rock Creek area, campsites were evacuated at a moment’s notice, the highway was closed, and the news was full of stories of people setting their animals free before they had to flee their farms.

kins corner ranch

I think of that beautiful landscape, the Kettle River running through it, the ranches anchored by history and long occupation, the birds, dense stands of fir and pine, and everywhere the meadows, the scent of wildflowers. I hope for the best for all the people who lived there, many of them able now to return to find what was left of home after days in temporary shelters, fed by the people of Midway and Kelowna and other communities which opened their doors, and I remember a poem, not about this place exactly (you’ll note the references to ocean), but about how such landscapes enter memory and come to us unprovoked, in dreams:

A Bend in the Road

In a dream, a road leads to my new life.

I am riding a horse. Around the far bend

is a bay and by that, a house. I am planning

for food, a garden, an occupation.

My family has never occurred.

The ditches are bright with poppies and hawkweed.

I am thinking I have been here before,

in a dream, or not, but long ago, I remember

the fields of daffodils swept back

from the road in sunlight, the horse’s sweat

and the swish of its tail.

What I don’t know is the house.

There are visible boats, a pier,

the sweet smell of tar. When I wake

to find my children in my bed, a guest

in the downstairs room, blue cups on the counters,

no water in sight, the black horse dead

all these years, I grieve for the bend

in the road and beyond.

–from I Thought I Could See Africa (High Ground Press, 1991)

2 thoughts on ““I grieve for the bend in the road and beyond””

  1. Thanks, Brenda. And yes, the fires — apocalyptic. The images of wild orange flame and trees exploding high in the air, a skeletal barn, a black field, won’t soon be forgotten.

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